Back and not really loving it

Hello – er, I’m back. I think.

God, where did the time go? Can’t believe it’s been so long. Certainly can’t believe the state of my vegetable plot, which is primordial. I hadn’t been for three months until yesterday… and I got a horrible shock.

Reason for this extended absence is obviously the Works, which didn’t finish until shortly before Christmas. But also the not doing the allotment – the not going, the not digging, the not weeding, the not spending hours and hours a week there – has been oddly addictive.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to go back. I DON’T want to go back.

Having run a large (a very large) vegetable plot for six years without a break, I’d lost sight of how much time it was costing me, and how much energy it was sucking out of me.

Having had some time away – and enjoyed it – I’ve realised that I need to moderate my time on the plot if I’m going to continue enjoying it. The 12 months to August 2012 were, if I’m honest, pretty miserable. It didn’t help that we had the shittest of shitty seasons last year. But I was also fighting the clock every week, desperately trying to fit in an hour’s digging here, 20 mins weeding there. When I wasn’t at the plot, I was feeling guilty about it. When I was, I was in a hurry and resenting it.

Somehow, this has to change. I need more quality time with my vegetables.

Any suggestions?

9 Responses to “Back and not really loving it”

  1. Clare Dallison Says:

    I have a theory that you will change your mind once the sun is shining and those long, warm summer evenings arrive!

    (They will arrive won’t they?)

  2. Ronnie Says:

    Welcome back Soilman.
    I was beginning to wonder if the builder had planted you below the patio(or if you had done so with him and were in the Clink!) I hpoe the extension was a success.
    Probably most of us haven’t been building an extension but still haven’t been to our plots for a couple of months either due to the foul weather. I’ve probably only really been twice — once to offload 20 big bags of seaweed gathered at the local shore in Belfast Lough after a storm and then on Christmas Eve to gather the Brussels for next day’s dinner. Pleased to have them this year — crop covered with Environmesh all year — not pretty but no cabbage root fly and no cabbage whites.

    Not much advice anyone can offer about conflicts about the time demands of the plot in my view, since what you’re really taking about is how you use those precious(and inevitably limited)number of minutes we each have (that comment reminds me of the Incredible String Band song — “This Moment” — yes I am that old). I suppose it’s a matter of balancing priorities against aspirations. But don’t do anything precipitate like handing back the keys — you know you’ll have a hell of a job getting another plot again. And looking back over your past photos and blogs, it’s clear you get a kick out of growing your own. Only practical point I can offer is as follows —- I retired last year so now have more time for whatever I want to do, but when I was working I used to make a point, weather permitting of getting to the plot around 7.30am at weekends so I could get the grafting done before the rest of the family surfaced.
    Get yourself some spuds for chitting( Kestrel — so you can dream of lovely dry chips all summer) and the bug will soon re-infect you!

  3. Tom D Says:

    I would set your sights lower this year – it is supposed to be relaxing and therapeutic, not a stress inducing exercise. As Ronnie points out – most of the ‘best’ plots are run by retired persons..Plant a few spuds and loads of green manure and enjoy the rain from the comfort of your new sun-room (assuming the bloody thing does not leak)

  4. Rampant_Weasel Says:

    the internet wouldnt be the same without soilmans smug presentation of the enormous cauliflower 😉

  5. Rachel Says:

    Thank goodness all is well Soilman. Can we have piccies of the completed extension ? My suggestion is that you do big easy stuff like growing potatoes, beans and squash through black plastic or cardboard. This will suppress/kill weeds and act as a mulch to reduce watering (an issue in any normal year). Maybe get a friend to take over half the plot. Also grow something you,ve never grown before to keep your interest levels up. Lovely website. It looks from your carrot and cabbage videos that you have real skill and it would be such a pity for that to be lost. I dream of growing carrots and cabbages of that size. Mine are just bug eaten and runty. All the best. Rachel

  6. Soilman Says:

    Thanks all for kind words, and thoughts on how to proceed. I’m going to try to do some actual weed clearance (you know, real work) next weekend. If I can clear a 5 sq m patch, I’ll feel a bit better about it.

    Rachel: Will post pix of completed new room in next post. I’m very, very pleased with it. Despite all the agony of getting it actually built.

  7. Lucy @ Smallest Smallholding Says:

    If I’m honest, my allotment was like an albatross around my neck. I constantly had the guilts about it, so I decided I’m not Wonderwoman and decided to concentrate on getting it all right with the plots at home. It might seem like a completely obvious solution, but what about downsizing your allotment plot to a half plot, or just having something at home? Do you have space for a few smaller plots to grow the stuff you really enjoy (and can ultimately be really smug about when you harvest celeriac etc. of beachball-sized dimensions)?

  8. glittertrash Says:

    Oh Soilman. Our hobbies shouldn’t rule us, no matter how much passion they inspire. I made the sad decision to give up my share of a Kleingarten- German allotment- after this last summer, because although I loved it, it was exhausting to commute to a place to do hours of physical work after finishing a long day of paid work. There is life outside of gardening. I’m going to try a (SMALL) container garden on the roof deck this year. Some chard, beans and cherry tomatoes, no more.

    I think fallow years can be as good for you as for the land. No shame in taking a break. Rip the weeds up, plant a green manure, and let your passion grow itself quietly and restfully for a while.

    Congrats on the extension, as well! So glad to hear you’re pleased with it.

  9. Chris Says:

    Hey Soilman,

    We took possession of an overgrown allotment last year. We could have in theory run ourselves ragged trying to get crops in, but instead made the conscious decision just to prepare it for the following year.

    The removal of the stress was palpable, and despite the lack of vegetables, it definitely made us realise there’s no point in putting ourselves under undue pressure just for a hobby!

    So we will continue in this vein!

    Hope you find the right balance